Nowadays, there are numerous debates regarding the fact whether humans are still evolving. Some researchers believe that the process of evolution is a historical term that does not have any relevance in modern society. On the other hand, there are scientists who state that examples of evolution can be noticed today as well. In fact, as a species, Homo sapiens look very different compared to Australopithecus afarensis who populated the Earth around 3 million years ago. At the same time, there is a vast difference between modern population groups and the ones that lived 10000 years ago. As a result, it is estimated that evolution will endow future generations with new traits. Today, the effect of evolution is demonstrated through a variety of examples, such as less bone density, constant change of genes, and decreased body temperature. Thus, the unstoppable process of evolution is expected to result in the development of new genetic technologies, a great reliance on medicine for survival, as well as an improvement of knowledge in the field of evolutionary anthropology.
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Decrease of the Average Body Temperature
Despite that this idea still needs a considerable analysis from the perspective of scientists, it can be regarded as an essential example of the constant process of evolution. For instance, in 1868, the «normal» human temperature was equivalent to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (Mackowiak & Worden, 1994). This numerical designator has been used as the average temperature for over a century. Simultaneously, the research article published at the beginning of 2020 provides evidence against this theory. In fact, the analysis of medical records from the past several centuries demonstrates that body temperature has been decreasing by 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years (Protsiv et al., 2020). When it comes to the reasons for such an enormous process, researchers highlight improved conditions of life and a population-wide decline in inflammation. First, the diseases of the 19th century were the main cause of the increased body temperature, as they were associated with a high metabolic rate of individuals.
Nowadays, the majority of people do not face chronic inflammation that was relevant several centuries ago. As a result, human bodies do not need to burn calories and increase body temperature. Second, comfortable indoor conditions offer the opportunity to avoid the negative consequences of overworking. Accordingly, the modem population has adapted to the conditions that help improve health status.
Constant Change of Genes
Natural selection has always played a prominent role in the lives of individuals regardless of their gender, age, or cultural traits. Widely known as one of the main factors of evolution, natural selection explains how populations of living organisms adapt and change. Furthermore, this process is connected to pressures which constantly threaten the lives of individuals. For example, pathogens rapidly evolve and become contributors to human morbidity and mortality. One of the recent research studies uses evidence in order to demonstrate how generations eating vegetarian food are more likely to display a higher frequency of a specific mutation on the FADS2 gene (Kothapalli et al., 2016). It can be explained by the fact that gene-culture evolution resulted in the ability of individuals to process omega-3 acids from non-meat sources and use them as contributors for the overall health. In turn, people who prefer including meat in their nutrition are not adapted to this function. This experiment has helped researchers identify one of the most obvious examples of recent positive selection.
Simultaneously, genetic adaptions can be noticed in a variety of other situations. For example, there is a strong correlation between living in the urban region and decreased chances of facing tuberculosis (Sikalengo et al., 2018). Scientists state that human organisms tend to adapt to environmental changes, thereby creating a gene that is associated with resistance to tuberculosis. Therefore, the process of evolution still significantly impacts the everyday lives of individuals in different parts of the world.
Less Bone Density
Human bones have always been weaker than bones of related species, although the past century was the period when this process accelerated. Initially, the strength of people was compared to the strength of orangutan. Human beings were required to adapt to difficult living conditions, such as hunting and fights. At the same time, modern population groups do not face these obstacles; conversely, the typical representative of Homo sapiens spends a vast amount of time sitting. In order to detect whether external conditions affect bone density and skeleton, numerous research studies were conducted. As a result, one of the recent evidence-based articles demonstrates that human bones started to weaken around 12000 years ago — the period when the majority of population groups started farming more. (Chirchir et al., 2015). Taking into consideration that today people move less than ever before, it is predicted that the skeleton of human beings will be weaker in the future. Additionally, a rapid change in diet has contributed to less bone density as well. Thus, poor physical activity and the lack of the need to challenge the bones result in the decreased thickness of bone tissue.
The Effect of Constant Evolution on Future Generations
In spite of the fact that new genetic technologies are often associated with ethical issues, they have been rapidly developing the past several decades. Furthermore, it is expected that the next century will be the period of the main advances in this field. For example, recent discoveries in the area of genetic technologies have contributed to the development of new medical decisions. Nowadays, scientists and healthcare providers expect to improve their knowledge of genome editing and decrease the number of genetic health issues in the future.
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Today, one of the latest achievements in this area is the development of pronuclear transfer technology offering the opportunity to avoid maternal inheritance of mitochondrial disease (Chiaratti et al., 2020). In addition to this advancement, scientists aim to produce technologies that are able to edit genomes after the birth of individuals. In turn, once these goals are achieved, researchers expect a greater reliance on medicine for survival. It can be explained by the fact that nearly 80% of all doctors will be replaced by technologies (Vatandoost & Litkouhi, 2019). The most popular fields of medical practice will be radiology, ophthalmology, oncology, and dermatology. Considering that doctors are responsible for approximately 100000 medical errors causing deaths in hospitals and clinics each year, the replacement of doctors to technologies will help address this problem and save the lives of numerous human beings in different parts of the world (Makary & Daniel, 2016). However, these technologies require a comprehensive analysis from different perspectives in order to avoid potential errors.
Moreover, it is estimated the improvement of knowledge in the field of evolutionary anthropology in the nearest future. Today, this area of science provides a powerful theoretical framework for determining the effect of environmental conditions and external pressures on the development of human beings. The cooperation between evolutionary behavioral anthropologists with other applied social scientists and policy-makers can help scientists contribute to the well-being of future generations.
In conclusion, it would be important to note that evolution has always been an integral part of humanity. Human bodies still adapt to external conditions, which is confirmed by numerous research studies. For instance, when people were required to live in coves and obtain food by hunting, their bones and muscles were much thicker. Nowadays, people have the opportunity to live in comfortable weather conditions, obtain food in supermarkets, and buy medicines in local pharmacies. As a result, the bodies adapt to these conditions and become weaker. On the one hand, people are way healthier than they were several centuries ago. On the other hand, humanity faces the problem of obesity and resistance to antibiotics. Therefore, it is predicted that the field of healthcare will be rapidly developing in the future, thereby contributing to the improvement of the overall health status of various population groups. Accordingly, the development of new genetic technologies, a great reliance on medicine for survival, as well as an improvement of knowledge in the field of evolutionary anthropology are going to be the main topics for discussion in the future.
Chiaratti, M., Macabelli, C., Augusto Neto, J., Grejo, M., Pandey, A., Perecin, F., & Collado, M. (2020). Maternal transmission of mitochondrial diseases. Genetics and Molecular Biology, 43. Web.
Chirchir, H., Kivell, T., Ruff, C., Hublin, J., Carlson, K., Zipfel, B., & Richmond, B. (2015). Recent origin of low trabecular bone density in modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(2), 366-371. Web.
Kothapalli, K., Ye, K., Gadgil, M., Carlson, S., O’Brien, K., Zhang, J., Park, H., Ojukwu, K., Zou, J., Hyon, S., Joshi, K., Gu, Z., Keinan, A., & Brenna, J. (2016). Positive selection on a regulatory insertion–deletion polymorphism in FADS2 influences apparent endogenous synthesis of arachidonic acid. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33(7), 1726-1739. Web.
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Protsiv, M., Ley, C., Lankester, J., Hastie, T., & Parsonnet, J. (2020). Decreasing human body temperature in the United States since the Industrial Revolution. Elife, 9. Web.
Sikalengo, G., Hella, J., Mhimbira, F., Rutaihwa, L., Bani, F., Ndege, Sasamalo, M., Kamwela, L., Said, K., Mhalu, G., Mlacha, Y., Hatz, C., Knopp, S., Gagneux, S., Reither, K., Utzinger, J., Tanner, M., Letang, E., Weisser, M., & Fenner, L. (2018). Distinct clinical characteristics and helminth co-infections in adult tuberculosis patients from urban compared to rural Tanzania. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 7(1). Web.
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